South Carolina schedules — and stays — its first executions in 10 years.

June 24, 2021 | The South Carolina Supreme Court issued two stays of execution earlier this month amid legal concerns regarding the state’s plan to execute two men during the month of June using a 109-year-old electric chair. 

In May, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster signed into law a bill requiring individuals on the state’s death row to choose between executions by electric chair or firing squad if lethal injection drugs are not available.

Following the law’s passage, the state wasted no time in issuing two death warrants: one for Brad Sigmon on Jun. 18, 2021 and the other for Freddie Owens on Jun. 25. The executions would have been the first carried out in South Carolina in the last decade due to a lack of access to lethal injection drugs.

Because the state has not yet established a firing squad protocol, Mr. Sigmon and Mr. Owens’ only available method of execution was the electric chair. On Wednesday, Jun. 16 — two days before the scheduled execution of Brad Sigmon — the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that neither his nor Mr. Owens’ executions could move forward until the state had a firing squad option in place. 

“Under these circumstances, in which electrocution is the only method of execution available, and due to the statutory right of inmates to elect the manner of their execution, we vacate the execution notice,” the court stated in its stay order of Brad Sigmon.

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